Chimney Sweeps

csia-logoBig Ash Chimney Sweeps will provide professional service to inspect, sweep and maintain your wood, gas, pellet, free standing stoves, inserts, fireplaces, chimneys and more…

The venting system for a wood-burning heater is every bit as important as the stove itself.

Does your woodstove have the hiccups? Does your house smell of smoke much of the time? Do you have a heck of a time getting a fire started? If you have one (or even all) of these problems, don’t blame the heater; your chimney is the most likely culprit.

Call Big Ash today for an inspection – (585)638-0300

Creosote

Fireplaces and wood stoves are designed to safely contain wood-fuel fires, while providing heat for a home. The chimneys that serve them have the job of expelling the byproducts of combustion – the substances produced when wood burns. These include smoke, water vapor, gases, unburned wood particles, hydrocarbon volatile, tar fog and assorted minerals. As these substances exit the fireplace or wood stove, and flow up into the relatively cooler chimney, condensation occurs. The resulting residue that sticks to the inner walls of the chimney is called creosote.

Creosote is black or brown in appearance. It can be crusty and flaky…tar-like, drippy and sticky…or shiny and hardened. Often, all forms will occur in one chimney system. Whatever form it takes, creosote is highly combustible. If it builds up in sufficient quantities – and catches fire inside the chimney flue instead of the firebox of the fireplace or wood stove – the result will be a chimney fire.

Although any amount of creosote can burn, sweeps are concerned when creosote builds up in sufficient quantities to sustain a long, hot, destructive chimney fire. Certain conditions encourage the buildup of creosote. Simply put, restricted air supply, unseasoned wood and cooler-than normal chimney temperatures are all factors that can accelerate the buildup of creosote on chimney flue walls. Air supplies on fireplaces may be restricted by closed glass doors or by failure to open the damper wide enough to move heated smoke up the chimney rapidly (the longer the smoke’s “residence time” in the flue, the more likely is it that creosote will form).

A wood stove’s air supply can be limited by closing down the stove damper or air inlets too soon and too much, and by improperly using the stovepipe damper to restrict air movement. Burning unseasoned wood – because so much energy is used initially just to drive off the water trapped in the cells of the logs– keeps the resulting smoke cooler, as it moves through the system, than if dried seasoned wood is used. In the case of wood stoves, fully packed loads of wood (that give large cool fires and 8 or 10 hour burn times) also contribute to creosote buildup. Cool flue temperatures speed creosote production, too.

Condensation of the unburned byproducts of combustion occurs more rapidly in an exterior chimney, for example, than in a chimney that runs through the center of a house and exposes only the upper reaches of the flue to the elements.

This creosote is the result of either burning wood that is not seasoned or wet.
This form of creosote can build in a very short period of time if you are not careful.

Chimney fires usually start when the fire is first started up or the appliance is reloaded . We have what I call a tall flame path, so the flames reach up and can catch the creosote on fire. Preventive maintenance can prevent any of this from happening. Once a year is a good general rule to have the chimney inspected or cleaned if using it.

Chimney Fires

As you snuggle in front of a cozy fire or bask in the warmth of your wood stove, you are taking part in a ritual of comfort and enjoyment handed down through the centuries. The last thing you are likely to be thinking about is the condition of your chimney.

However, if you don’t give some thought to it before you light those winter fires, your enjoyment may be very short-lived. Why? Dirty chimneys can cause chimneyfires, which damage structures, destroy homes and injure or kill people.

The chimney is usually the last thing standing if things get out of control or if they are not installed correctly.

Proper Maintenance

Clean chimneys don’t catch fire. Make sure a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep inspects your solid fuel venting system annually, and cleans and repairs it whenever needed. Your sweep may have other maintenance recommendations depending on how you use your fireplace or stove. CSIA recommends that you call on certified chimney sweeps, since they are regularly tested on their understanding of the complexities of chimney and venting system

It can’t be said enough,”Get your chimney cleaned and inspected annually”.

It only takes about  a quarter of an inch of creosote to catch on fire.

If you are new to a home and not sure the chimney has been cleaned or inspected, you should at least have it inspected and you will be told if you the need to go any further to have it cleaned.